Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

You say Cooky; I say Cookie...

My friend Angela wrote me about this book:

About the book, she says:

Your mention of the cookies made me want to tell you about this book (circa 1963) that my mother in law recently gave to us. It has all the classic 'cooky' recipes and also a section that goes through all the "best cooky of the decade" going back to 1880. On the chocolate chip cooky it says: "This luscious cooky from the New England Toll House, Whitman, Mass., enjoyed immediate and continued popularity. It was introduced to homemakers in 1939 on our radio series 'Famous Foods from Famous Places'." I want to make them all!

Pat again: I wonder when it got changed from cooky to cookie.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Brunch with Lane

Lane is in town with her husband for a few days of NYC Christmas, and she came over this morning for brunch. First stop, though, was at Tal Bagels. That's the place with great food, marvelous bagels but they can sometimes be crabby. I asked Lane how she was treated and she said "Very well." In fact, I had told Lane I had coffee, I had cream cheese and I had juice, but I didn't have something she uses exclusively in her coffee: half & half.

In Tal Bagels, she said to the guy, "I have an odd request. I don't want coffee, but I do want some half & half and I'm willing to pay for it." Which she was. He said, "No problem, no charge" and gave her nearly a coffee cup's worth of cream... so much so that I urged her to take the rest back to her hotel (room had a refrigerator) so she could use it later.

We realized we hadn't seen each other since Oshkosh in 2014 so it's been a while, but it felt totally normal having her here and I said so. She said, "That's because we talk all the time." Which we do! A lot.

Here's my brunch girl:

Sunday, December 27, 2015

What I'm Reading

I had a hard time picking which book to read next; nothing in particular appealed to me -- like looking in the refrigerator and not being in the mood for anything.

So this is like a Downton Abbey type story. I like the historic period and the whole upstairs/downstairs vibe so I went with this.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

My Christmas

Have just enjoyed reading various Christmases described on Christmas night by friends who enjoyed a wide range of activities (or non-activities) all with family, fun and relaxation the components.

As for me, I went to my sister's home on Long Island. Car picked me up at 1 for about an hour's trip. On the Long Island Expressway going there, I saw a car pulled over to the side of the road and as I was feeling sorry for anyone having car trouble, I noticed five or six flower memorials, floral crosses that people sometimes do in the case of a fatal car accident. And the car was there so the occupants could stop and pay respects. I mentioned this to Scott and Mary E when I arrived, that it was near Exit #40 and Scott said, "That must have been for Harry Chapin." Then he googled it and he was killed near Exit #40. The fatal car accident, which I have to say I don't have much memory of, took place in July, but Chapin's birthday was December 7th so I guess he still has very devoted followers and fans.

So onto Christmas. We talked and cooked and opened presents. Christmas dinner was a beautiful beef filet. Sides were those little red potatoes roasted with garlic and rosemary, corn pudding, fresh broccoli and home-made popovers which were wonderful. I hadn't had a popover in years.

For some reason, these popovers came out the biggest/tallest Scott had made. He ascribed their success perhaps to mixing the ingredients in the blender, I ate two!

For some reason, this photo is determined to be here, no matter what I do, so we'll jump to dinner with the little paper crowns and this is Clark with his father in the background. 

This is Charlie in his Christmas present sweater that he liked. Scott says Charlie actually likes wearing clothes. Later when the sweater came off, Clark wanted to see if it fit him. Of course, he couldn't get his arms through the holes but he got it over his head with the little ears which reminded his mother of when he was a baby and had a little wool hat with ears on it. 
Louisa got this very soft blanket as a gift which Charlie assumed was his for a nap. Luckily Louisa is an animal lover so she didn't mind.
Clark and me. And I'm wearing a hand-dyed scarf that Fran made and gifted me for Christmas. Really beautfiul. 
And here is Clark putting together this little kit I gave him... one was to build the Space Shuttle and one was to build the White House... he finished the Space Shuttle one and really enjoyed it.

And here's Louisa.

And later at the dinner table. That's sparkling cider in her hand, not wine!
Here's Charlotte... The little paper crown is from the Christmas crackers that each had a toned whistle inside numbered from one to seven and they gave you stickers to identify which number whistle you had and Charlotte put hers on her forehead. Later she was the conductor of the whistle orchestra and we played "Jingle Bells," "Deck the Halls" and "Good King Wenceslas" on the whistles with Charlotte pointing to us when it was time to toot. She really was a great conductor since we had random numbers and we probably looked like the special needs family with our concentration with our whistles, but we did make music and laughed a lot.

Cat Christmas

Fran says, "Angelina under the tree, waiting to pounce on her prey (Valentino)"

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Mary is still baking!

She says:

These are Spritz cookies made with a cookie press.  The press was my mom's, probably from about 1950. They are easy to make but hard to get just the right amount of dough so you'll see some variation in the cookie sizes (btw, the instructions spell it "cooky").  I followed the directions so I used Crisco and almond extract. I could have used Mom's help....but it was fun.

The cookie factory at work...

The finished product.... I want some!

This is the implement. My mother had one as well... must have been the thing to do in the 1950s-60s. The different ips made different shaped cookies.

What I'm Reading

Here's what Amazon says:

She wanted to be more daring, but one small risk is about to cost her everything—maybe even her life.
Bold and adventurous in her work as owner of one of Manhattan's boutique interior design firms, Kit Finn couldn't be tamer in her personal life. While on vacation in the Florida Keys, Kit resolves to do something risky for once. When she literally bumps into a charming stranger at her hotel, she decides to make good on her promise and act on her attraction. But back in New York, when Kit arrives at his luxury apartment ready to pick up where they left off in the Keys, she doesn't recognize the man standing on the other side of the door. Was this a cruel joke or part of something truly sinister? Kit soon realizes that she's been thrown into a treacherous plot, which is both deeper and deadlier than she could have ever imagined. Now the only way to protect herself, her business, and the people she loves is to find out the true identity of the man who has turned her life upside down. Adrenaline-charged and filled with harrowing twists at every turn, The Wrong Man will keep readers riveted until the final page.

me again: The book opens with her on the last day of vacation where she decides she needs to be more daring. She meets a man at her hotel; they meet again shopping and he invites her for dinner.She says yes, and then she ends up sleeping with him which is unlike her. He calls her (they both live in NYC) and invites her to dinner at his apartment. When she gets there, there is a totally different man,same name,who doesn't know her.This new man is rich and convinces her to come to his company and talk to his head of security since he fears someone is impersonating him and could damage his business ... and as I write she is walking to the conference room. Hmmmmmm........

Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas Part2

Fran says:

Kinda get the feeling lots of children live in this house? This enthusiastically decorated house on Military Road makes you smile. 

Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

With temperatures approaching 70 degrees, it doesn't feel like Christmas. Still walking with a cane, I am afraid of ice and snow and since it's supposed to be in the high 60s on Christmas day, I said to Mary I may be able to stop worrying that I'll have to walk to the snow to get to the car to go to my sister's house on Christmas. Check that one off the worry list.

So here are some flowers I received from a client... this bouquet is so fragrant that I can smell them 15 feet away. You can't really see it in the photo, but the glass container is bright red glass.

Have all my presents wrapped so I'm getting there!

Finished my one book. Work-work hasn't seemed to end yet. I feel like last week I churned out more work every day than I had in a long time... everyone seemed rushed... let's get this out before Christmas. I was thinking things would slow down but so far no... maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Night

Had a relaxing weekend of doing no work-work... just puttered, wrote Christmas cards, wrapped presents, read, watched TV (binge watched The Affair on Showtime... and the finale is tonight so I'll see that live); played computer games, etc. My "Life or Death" book is almost done -- a real page-turner, and I liked this author so much that I went to Amazon and bought another of his books for a penny... don't know how I've missed his books all these years.

One thing I didn't do was bake-- but Mary did... and she reports:

These are from my Barefoot Contessa cookbook and they're called chocolate peanut butter globs.  The house smells so chocolatey!  I'm done for the day but they were fun to make. I might have to make another batch. Or maybe try another recipe.

And provides this photographic evidence:

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

More Global Warming

When I was leaving Mary's out the back door to her deck and to the parking space, I noticed that her hibiscus had buds on it and pointed it out to Mary. She just sent me this... Crazy weather!

Mary writes:

It's colder today but the sun is out.  Here's the hibiscus in n the back porch that you commented on, Pat. Those buds you saw have opened.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What I'm Reading

I read about this book on Twitter; had not heard of the author before (this book got 4.5 stars on Amazon and I bought it for 87 cents plus $3.99 shipping), but here's what it's about:

Why would a man serving a long prison sentence escape the day before he's due to be released?

Audie Palmer has spent ten years in a Texas prison after pleading guilty to a robbery in which four people died and seven million dollars went missing. During that time he has suffered repeated beatings, stabbings and threats by inmates and guards, all desperate to answer the same question: where's the money?

On the day before Audie is due to be released, he suddenly vanishes. Now everybody is searching for him - the police, FBI, gangsters and other powerful figures - but Audie isn't running to save his own life. Instead, he's trying to save someone else's.

Michael Robotham has created the ultimate underdog hero, an honorable criminal shrouded in mystery and ready to lead readers on a remarkable chase.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fantastic Pre-Christmas Weekend

Got back this afternoon from a really wonderful weekend in Washington DC at Mary's house for our annual pre-Christmas celebration. This year, there were just four of us: me, Mary, Fran and Matt ... oh yes, I meant five of us... Milo, too.

Drove down Saturday morning and the party started at dinner. First was the hors d'oeuvres... Mary made these (now I can't remember the name) but it's flavored cream cheese with seasoned, dressed chopped tomatoes on top of little rounds of French bread.

I should be embarrassed to show my heaping plate, but here goes... We had meat loaf, mashed potatoes, corn, green bean casserole, beet salad and ceasar salad. Looking at the empty plate of appetizers with lots of little tomato bits left, I suggested we dump the tomatoes into the ceasar salad making it some other kind of salad, but it was good.  Oh yes, and Mary made rolls. She mentioned a number of times how much butter went in, but I'd mentally stick my fingers in my ears and say la-la-la-la-la but I believe that's why the rolls were so good. I wanted ignorance of butter content to be bliss.

Matt was the designated helper... here he is mashing the potatoes (enough actually for three times as many people):

And opening the wine. We have a tradition of drinking Proseco which we believe is more of a breakfast/brunch wine, but hey, we don't care. We add tomatoes to ceasar salad!

Meanwhile, Milo watched us and snoozed...

For dessert, Mary had made a chocolate pie and Fran had made a ricotta cheesecake. Unplanned, these two desserts were a perfect complement. The chocolate pie was deep and dense and rich, and the cheesecake was light and airy with a bit of lemon... and then, of course, a squirt of whipped cream to top it off.

Here are the three of us looking way more demure than we were acting:

And Fran:

And Mary:

Matt is way better looking that this, but he is showing off his present from Michelle which was a beer coozie that's like a glove... and very patriotic... it's like a fingerless glove... oh well, here it is:

So that was Saturday. On Sunday, it was Mary and me and it was nice to spend quality time with Mary and we just talked and then laughed at various YouTube videos... oh yes, and we ate breakfast. If Mary goes first, I am going to say at her memorial service, not that she was my best friend, kind heart, generous, loving, compassionate, funny, smart, etc.. Nah... what I'm going to say is, "Jeez, she made the best damn scrambled eggs..." and here they are, along with bacon and a Wolferman's English muffin.

By the way, this photo was to illustrate that all weekend it was close to 70 degrees. Definitely not Christmas like. And even now, back in NYC, it's past 8pm and I still have the garden door open. It's a little cool now, but not enough to get up to close the door.

So I was feeling like a beer. I probably drink three beers a year (really), but when I'm in the mood for one of my three, I need that beer. So Matt brought this -- drank it out of the bottle and it just hit the spot.

So Fran arrived as well and we ordered from a neighborhood Italian place... this is the order: one chicken parmesan, one 4-cheese ravioli, one spaghetti with sausage and some kind of sauce, and one shrimp on angel hair with some kind of sauce. All was wonderful. Here's the shrimp dish:

Later on, when I was upstairs in my room, I had my suitcase open and had started to pack up. I had the suitcase open on the bed and put clothes in one half of it so the other half was totally empty. Milo came nosing around, loved the suitcase as his new bed and got in and slept for a while. I knew he would be torn between his new bed and sleeping with Mary. Well, Mary won out over my suitcase and he joined her.

So then this morning, we got up around 8, and I left around 9, still mild but foggy and had a totally uneventful trip home which is just the way I like it.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Apple Store in NYC

Barb sent this along. It's certainly a new face for retailing -- the Apple store in the Big Apple.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas at Union Station

Our DC office (yes, that's Mary) has sent these in from a shopping trip to Union Station.

She says:

 I love Union Station at Christmas. There's a big tree every year donated by the Norwegian embassy. They also always set up a great train set with a Norwegian village. I took pictures, not sure how good they are. The first one is a restaurant in the main hall that looked pretty.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fall in Texas

Melissa reports in: Who says we don't have Fall colors in Texas...they just come in December :). A beautiful tree in my neighbor's yard!

Moment of Panic

The email subject line from Mary read "Couldn't find Milo this morning" and my heart stopped... until I opened the email and looked at the photo...

My friend had a cat and someone had given the cat some catnip for Christmas which she described as marijuana for cats and she found her cat on its back, under the tree, looking up at the lights, stoned out of its little cat mind.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Time Lapse Christmas Tree from Mary

No, it's not Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. It's Mary's (artificial) tree prior to attaching the branches.
While Milo explores the semi-empty box....

All ready for decorating...

First all the lights go on...

Add the ornaments and it's ready for Christmas.